NetworkSecurity

URL Filtering

Are you concerned about the types of websites your employees are visiting? Do you want to block certain content from being accessed on your network? If so, then URL filtering may be the solution you’re looking for.

What Is URL Filtering? 

Uniform Resource Locator (URL) filtering tests URLs to determine whether they should be allowed or blocked. In simple terms, URL filtering is blocking access to websites that are not approved.

This is done by examining the URL filtering database of each requested website and then comparing it against a database of approved or blocked websites. Access is granted if the website is on the list of approved websites and denied if on the list of blocked websites.

URL filtering can block malware, phishing websites, and other unwanted content on search engines. It can also enforce acceptable use policies, such as preventing employees from accessing social media during work hours.

URL filtering is usually performed by blocking specific URLs in the web address known to be malicious or inappropriate. However, some URL filters also analyze the website content to block websites that contain certain keywords or topics.

How Does URL Filtering Work?

When a user attempts to access a blocked URL, the filtering software checks the database to see if the URL is on the list of blocked sites. If it is, then the user is prevented from accessing multiple sites. This way, URL filtering can help prevent users from visiting inappropriate or dangerous websites.

Typically, this is done through software blocking or redirecting web traffic to certain websites. In some cases, setting up filters at the server level may also be possible, which can prevent certain types of fake website traffic from reaching a particular computer or network.

Is URL Filtering The Same As Web Filtering?

URL and web filtering are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they refer to two types of content control methods. URL filtering blocks access to specific websites based on their URL address. This can be useful for preventing employees from accessing personal email accounts or social media sites during work hours or blocking access to sites containing inappropriate content.

On the other hand, web filtering is a more general term that refers to any content control method used to restrict access to suspicious or malicious websites. This can include URL filtering and other methods, such as IP filtering and DNS filtering. While URL filtering is a specific type of web filtering, the two terms are not interchangeable.

How Does URL Filtering Help Block Malware And Phishing Attacks? 

Malware and phishing attacks are a constant threat to organizations of all sizes. Cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new ways to exploit vulnerabilities, and as soon as one threat is thwarted, another one pops up. A comprehensive security strategy includes multiple layers of defense; a URL filter is an important part of that strategy.

A URL filter maintains a database of known malware or phishing sites and blocks traffic. The database is constantly updated with new entries as new threats are identified. When a user in your organization attempts to access a website, the URL filter checks the web traffic against its database.

If the site is on the list of known malicious sites, the user is blocked from accessing it. A URL filter helps prevent users from accidentally exposing your organization to malware or phishing security risks by blocking access to known malicious websites.

Why Do I Need URL Filtering? 

URL Filtering is quite simply the act of allowing or disallowing certain URLs from being accessed. This can be done for various reasons, but most commonly, it is used to protect users from accessing malicious or inappropriate websites.

Here are the key benefits that can help keep you safe from data loss:

Preventing Malicious Attacks

By blocking access to known malicious websites, you can help prevent your devices from being infected with malware or becoming part of a botnet. The malicious web page can also distribute attacks to other devices on your network. So, URL filtering can help protect your social media websites from becoming a vector for attacks.

Protecting Against Phishing Attempts

Phishers often create fake websites that mimic legitimate ones to trick users into entering their personal information. Phishing websites are typically hosted on domain names similar to, but not the same as, legitimate websites. URL filtering can help block access to these phishing sites and diminish security risks.

Improving Productivity

URL Filtering systems can help improve employee productivity by blocking access to non-work-related websites, such as social media sites, gaming sites, and other distracting sites. Enforcing an acceptable use policy for your network can help keep employees focused on work tasks.

Saving Network Bandwidth

Some websites (e.g., streaming video sites) use a lot of bandwidth, which can slow down your network and increase bandwidth usage costs. Url filtering can help block access to these sites, saving network bandwidth and money.

Limitations Of URL Filtering 

There are several potential limitations when it comes to URL filtering. One is that it can be difficult to keep up with the constantly changing landscape of the Internet, and new sites are constantly popping up. This means there is a potential for some sites to slip through the cracks and not be properly filtered.

Additionally, some URL filters can be bypassed by savvy users, who may be able to find ways to access a blocked computer network or circumvent the filter entirely. Finally, URL filtering can sometimes cause problems with legitimate sites that are mistakenly flagged as inappropriate or dangerous. So, URL filtering limits access to such sites. While URL filtering services can be helpful, it is important to know their potential limitations.

What Is URL Filtering In A Router?

URL filtering in routers identifies URL requests and then allows or blocks them based on predetermined rules. One URL filtering feature is that it can be used to block websites known to be malicious or that fall into categories that are not allowed by the router’s administrator.

For example, a URL filter can block all access to pornographic websites or social networking sites. URL filters are often used in corporate networks and public Wi-Fi hotspots to prevent users from accessing inappropriate or harmful content. URL filtering can also improve performance by blocking harmful sites that consume a lot of bandwidth, such as video streaming sites.

URL filtering is typically implemented using a software package installed on the router. The software package contains a database of URLs categorized according to their content. When a user tries to access a URL, the software checks the URL on search engines against the database and then either allows or blocks the request based on the administrator-defined rules.

How To Set Up URL Filtering In 5 Easy Steps

In today’s internet landscape, ensuring your data’s safety is more important than ever. One way to do this is by setting up URL filtering, which can help to block malicious websites and protect your information.

Here’s a quick and easy guide to setting up URL filtering in five steps:

Step One: Choose A URL filtering solution. There are several different URL filtering products on the market, so it is important to do some research to find the one that best suits your needs. Once you’ve found a product, you’re happy with, purchase it. 

Step Two: Install The Software. Once you have the software, install it on your computer or devices. The installation process will vary depending on your product, so follow the instructions carefully. 

Step Three: Configure The Settings. Once the software is installed, it’s time to configure the settings to suit your needs. This step will also vary depending on your product, so consult the user manual or support website for guidance if necessary. 

Step Four: Test The Filters. Once you have configured the settings, it is time to test them to ensure they are working as intended. Try visiting a few websites – ones you know are safe and ones you’re not sure about – and see how the URL filtering software reacts. 

Step Five: Keep Your Software Up To Date. It is important to keep your URL filtering software up-to-date to ensure maximum protection. Most products will update automatically, but it is always a good idea to check for updates manually from time to time, just in case. With these five easy steps, you’ll be able to set up URL filtering quickly and easily – helping you stay safe online! 

URL Filtering And DNS Filtering

URL filtering can be done either manually, by keeping a list of blocked sites and updating it regularly, or automatically, using software that can identify and block new sites as they appear.

DNS filtering is a similar process, but instead of blocking access to specific websites, it blocks access to the DNS servers that provide the IP addresses for those websites. This can be done by blocking all DNS requests to known servers or allowing only requests to approved servers. URL filtering and DNS filtering are effective methods for preventing access to unwanted or harmful content on the Internet.

However, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. URL filtering is typically more accurate than DNS filtering, as it can block specific websites rather than entire domains. URL filtering can be bypassed more easily than DNS filtering, as users can enter the URL of a blocked site into their browser’s address bar.

DNS filtering is less accurate than URL filtering, but it is more difficult to bypass. However, URL and DNS filters can protect users from security threats by blocking URLs using cloud services.

Endnote

URL Filtering is the process of identifying URL requests and then allowing or blocking them based on a set of predetermined rules. It is the right fit if you struggle with URL-related issues like malicious websites, inappropriate content, and harmful websites that consume a lot of bandwidth. So, get URL Filtering set up now and stay safe online!

Derik Belair

As President and CEO, Derik leads the vision, strategy and growth of Augmentt. Prior to founding Augmentt, Derik was the Vice President at SolarWinds, leading the digital marketing strategy for SolarWinds’ Cloud division. Derik has been working in the channel for over 20 years, starting his career as a channel sales rep at Corel Corp. and eventually becoming the first employee at N-able Technologies in April of 2000.

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